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Do You Know How To Treat A Snakebite?
Posted on Friday, July 15, 2016 by eNature

It’s the height of summer and folks throughout the country are visiting parks, hiking through the woods, or otherwise enjoying the outdoors.  At the same time, lots of other, non-human, creatures are on the move. 

Chances are high you might encounter a snake or two if you’re out.  But don’t panic— they’re actually pretty harmless creatures.

Even in areas where there are many venomous snake species, few people ever encounter them, and fewer yet run any real risk of being bitten. Most snakes, even the ones with the worst reputations, will choose to flee when they sense your presence. Snakes usually bite as a last resort. Remember, fangs and venom evolved primarily for prey capture, not as a defense mechanism. Most snakebites in this country come as a result of people trying to handle or otherwise harass or move the snake; avoid this type of behavior and you will probably never get bitten.

How To Avoid Snakebites
Here are some steps you can take to avoid snakebites:

  -Before venturing out into the wilderness, familiarize yourself with the snakes of your area, both venomous and non-venomous species.
  -Learn which habitats the venomous species in your region are likely to be encountered in, and use caution when in those habitats.
  -Always take a buddy into the field with you.
  -Wear boots and loose-fitting pants if you are venturing into venomous snake territory.
  -Try as much as possible not to take a snake by surprise. Stay on trails, and watch where you place your hands and feet, especially when climbing or stepping over fences, large rocks, and logs, or when collecting firewood.

How To Treat Snakebites
Despite what we often see in moves or television, venomous snakebites are rare—and if they do happen, they’re are rarely fatal to humans. Of the 8,000 snakebite victims in the United States each year, only about 10 to 15 die. However, for any snakebite the best course of action is to get medical care as soon as possible. 

And unlike in movies—never try to suck the venom out of wound with your mouth. Nothing good will come of doing that. Instead, follow the steps below:

  -Try to keep the snakebite victim still, as movement helps the venom spread through the body.
  -Keep the injured body part motionless and just below heart level.
  -Keep the victim warm, calm, and at rest, and transport him or her immediately to medical care. Do not allow him to eat or drink anything.
  -If medical care is more than half an hour away, wrap a bandage a few inches above the bite, keeping it loose enough to enable blood flow (you should be able to fit a finger beneath it). Do not cut off blood flow with a tight tourniquet. Leave the bandage in place until reaching medical care.
-  If you have a snakebite kit, wash the bite, and place the kit’s suction device over the bite. (Do not suck the poison out with your mouth.) Do not remove the suction device until you reach a medical facility.
-  Try to identify the snake so the proper antivenin can be administered, but do not waste time or endanger yourself trying to capture or kill it.
  -If you are alone and on foot, start walking slowly toward help, exerting the injured area as little as possible. If you run or if the bite has delivered a large amount of venom, you may collapse, but a snakebite seldom results in death.

Have you encountered any snakes recently?  How did you handle it?

We always enjoy hearing your stories!



You say snakes are not aggressive.  I beg to differ
What about the “brown water snake”  found in lakes in most New Jersey clear lakes. While swimming I have been confronted with very aggressive and determined big water snakes. This happens even 40 feet away from the shore line.
Makes swimming just a little dangerous.

Posted by N. Herr on 7/23

Found a three foot garter snake up in the crab apple tree yesterday going after baby birds.

Posted by Peter on 7/23

Our SIL got bit by a diamondback rattler 2½ weeks ago.  He got bit just below his right forefinger with what’s called a ‘warning strike’ but he still ended up being flown to a trauma center and spent two days in ICU.  He received 24 vials of anti-venom, which costs $13,000 a vial and is still having trouble with swelling and his PT time.  The doctors don’t know what to do and he could still lose his finger.  Snakebites can be deadly!

Posted by Ruth Bates on 7/23

One of our small dog was bitten by a copperhead.  The emergency clinic said they were doubtful she would survive.  They gave her platelets to help her blood coagulate.  She was in the hospital for several days and then had to go to/from the vet for intravenous treatment for another two weeks.  We almost lost her.  Following her recovery, she looks as if she aged several years, the fur on her face turning white.  She is fine now but the whole ordeal was quite expensive, both emotionally and financially.

Posted by Joy Chanin on 7/23

I grew up in North Alabama near the Tennesee river and its back waters.I have encountered most of the venomous snakes. rattle snakes, copper heads, cotton mouths I never found one aggressive unless cornered or molested. cotton mouths are reluctant to bite even when poked with a stick, if you encounter one in the water he is only trying to get the hell to safety.All snakes are good for the environment wasn’t for some of them—we would be over run with vermin.

Posted by Glenn Houser on 7/23

Yes, I agree with Glenn (above)...snakes mean no harm, apart from feeding themselves, and protecting themselves.. Too, Northern Watersnakes are not are in their territory if you are swimming! Humans are by far the MOST Dangerous animal~!!

Posted by Katharina B on 7/23

My 1-yr. old Labrador leaped into a copperhead nest and received four bites. She swelled up horriblely. She was in the vet’s hospital for about a week, then took another five weeks to recover fully. She lost all her training and never relearned some of it back. Clearly she was brain-damaged to some extent.

Posted by Diane Lavett on 7/23

Being a clumsy, noisy hiker is useful in giving warning to the critters of the woods that there is an interloper wandering through - gives them all, snakes included, time to get back into their hidey-hole.  But never relax your vigilance in snake territory; observe like you really want to see natural stuff - remember, you don’t have to kill spiders, bugs and critters just because you can.

Posted by Don D on 7/23

As a gardener sticking my hands in shrubs all the time, I carry in my purse a blend of essential oils, called Purification (Young Living) or Sinus Clear (Aromatherapeutix) which I would apply to the skin around the bite. Then I’d get a ride to the hospital knowing I’ve done my best.  These oils take away wasp sting pain and minimize the swelling, due to the antihistamine effect of the plant oils.

Posted by Nancy on 7/23

I agree with the comment, that we are by far the most dangerous and also destructive animals on this Planet, I say this all the time. We are so arrogant that we think that the animals who were here before us, should yield to our authority. Organized, Abrahamic religion has done more damage with the stupid story of the genesis that we were created separately from the animals, while in fact we are all related to whatever is alive on this planet and this Universe. If we continue the trend of our mindless reproducing, pretty soon this planet will look like the Moon. We are the only suicidal animals!

Posted by Contessa on 7/23

Bravo!, Contessa.  My feeling, thoughts exactly…and, giving Man “Dominion over the Creatures of the Earth” was really a BIG BLUNDER!!!

Posted by Katharina B. on 7/23

My husband was bit on ankle while looking for golf ball in the rough. Luckily we saw it was a 4-5 ft black racer, so we weren’t concerned about venom. It bled a bit but no other problems followed. In hindsight, we figure there was a nest nearby that he almost stepped in!

Posted by Sue Farrell on 7/23

I agree with many of the comments.  Humans are the most destructive and often ignorant of all species.  My yard is a certified wildlife habitat and that is probably one of the reasons one of our dogs was bitten by a copperhead.  Also, being about 12 pounds probably hindered her ability to recover, but thankfully she did recover.  I want snakes, frogs, lizards…  Just don’t want them biting me or my family members- two and four legged.

Posted by Joy Chanin on 7/23

Yes ,mankind the most dangerous cresture . Yes,t he misinterpretation of genesis command to have dominion has been used to justify the crimes against the planet and its inhabitants .  We DO have dominion ,like it or not , and each one is accountable for the choices made . We all should be , were made to be , caring for this earth and Everything on it . Snakes are awesome creatures . They are not out to get us ,we are not their prey . They have a right to eat ,have families defend themselves , their families and their turf , yet they will almost every time choose flight over fight . Its up to us to manage any conflict of interest.My apologies for continuing the off topic direction of this comment section .

Posted by ananda dominica on 7/30

We’ve found several rattlesnakes in our yard over the years. Although we live on a suburban street in the East Bay outside San Francisco, there is lots of open space nearby. I use a leaf rake and either a soft suitcase or a large plastic bin to catch them - just flick them and then cover the top or zip up the suitcase. Then we drive them down the street past where the houses end and let them go.

Posted by Michael McGowan on 7/31

N Herr brown water snakes are not venomous therefore not dangerous.

Posted by Eddie on 8/1

Some snakes are aggressive.  My dogs, in their fenced yard, encountered a Copperhead in a pile of leaves on the other side of the fence. They were anxious to have a go at it but the snake refused to move even though it had access to the whole rest of the unfenced area.  I suppose it didn’t understand it could move.  It was rattling it’s tail in the leaves to emulate a rattlesnake, which is part of it’s defense.  Ultimately, I moved it with a very large coal shovel that I put between me and it.  I pushed it down my long driveway, across the street, and into the woods.  It never once tried to move away on its own. It was very aggressive.  I suppose it was afraid to turn its back on me.  Whew!  Quite an experience.

Posted by Linda on 8/5
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